The Chicago Cubs know a thing or two about situations that never seem to end (just look at their 106 year World Series title drought), and the situation surrounding the financing of renovations at Wrigley Field is starting to feel similarly intractable.
First the team wanted to get public financing to help the project along, but the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago balked at the proposal. Then the team said that they would finance the deal themselves, provided that the city ease restrictions on advertising and the number of night games that the team is able to host. The rooftop owners threw a fit about that and threatened legal action.
Now, the Ricketts family is unloading the latest salvo in their attempts to get the Wrigley renovations (and the increased revenue that would go along with them) moving again. According to a slew of reports on Thursday, it was revealed that the family is interested in selling minority shares in the team to help raise capital for the projects.
According to Comcast Sportsnet, the move would not be unprecedented, as just about every big league team (including the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants) have a large group of investors that own stakes in the teams. The Ricketts aren’t interested in giving up majority ownership status in the franchise, and even though they are still in a bit of a bind because of the complicated deal that enabled them to finalize the sale with Sam Zell and the Tribune Company back in 2009, they are still confident in their forecasts for how the team is doing financially.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Cubs are currently the fifth most valuable franchise in baseball, with a value of $1.2 billion. Despite that valuation, the Cubs are forced to act like a mid-market team with limited resources because of the restrictions their deal with Zell has put them under. They aren’t allowed to spend money for the on-field product that they don’t already have in the coffers, and with a new TV deal and the Wrigley renovations still things that aren’t producing money yet, the team is having a tough time freeing up fresh cash to speed along a rebuilding process that has some fans agitated and wanting to see more progress.
At any rate, this saga is still far from over, and while we are still a ways away from finding out who these new minority owners will be, the hope around the team is that this will finally grease the wheels enough to get things moving on the project.